Last Up-dated -  Wednesday, 11 November 2015   Today is -

Recorded Memories


O'Rouke Sisters Interview. December 2000.

Three London Girls: Working life at the Argee 1940-1974 ‘Pierre made heaps of difference here, he was a wonderful man’

‘Our girls used to get an attendance bonus, apart from the work, at the end of 13 weeks…a nice bit for some of them in those days…to encourage them’

There was no knitting at the factory, material delivered from Courtaulds, cotton from Ibstock and other places and lace from Nottingham.

The Argee was a non union firm Union men did try and entice the girls to go to union meeting and Alice was asked, by the boss, to go to a meeting at the Working Men’s Club which she did but because she was staff she was told that she should not be there. The girls at the Argee would receive an attendance bonus about every 13 weeks, this was to encourage regular work, if a girl was absent too many times then she would lose part of this. The Argee did become a union factory after the sisters left.

All enjoyed their working life but if they had had different opportunities when young two of the sisters would have liked to have been nurses but coming from a poor family this wasn’t possible - ‘couldn’t wait to get to 14 to get to work to hand your money over’. Standards were very high at the Argee and Alice taught many young girls, ‘[you] needed endless patience to train them’. Alice emphasised the need to learn more than one type of machine and more than one type of operation. Buyers came from Baker Street, London to inspect work. Lynne remembers being watched by a group of people when sewing embroidery motifs onto garments, she was very good at this - ‘it wasn’t hard machining. …and I could glide round the edge, I’m not bragging… I used to go scarlet…’. Feet, knees and hands were used - hands were used to hold the motif and guide it round without stopping and starting, not done at speed. Alice kept a spanner and a pair of scissors in her pocket to repair knee press, ‘you had to be a mechanic as well!’

Em and Lynne couldn’t do this work now, they had been involved in very heavy war work and had worked as machinists all their working lives and now have lots of cushions to ease any aches and pains. While working on a machine operatives had to have the correct stool and not everyone had one. Factory inspectors legislated that operatives needed backs to their stools but Alice disagreed with this, when machining you need to lean forward.

Various types of machining was employed at the factory and sewing techniques were dictated by Marks and Spencers, it was an advantage for a girl to learn more than one style of stitching - flat machining, overlocking - there was the twin needle, the ‘herring’ foot, ‘gathering’ would use a different foot machine and zigzagging was used to stitch lace onto the hems of slips, ‘if you’d got a good girl, she could go round 2-3 scallops before she stopped’ (Lynne brought a slip to show as an example). Some girls enjoyed a challenge and would take to new techniques like a ‘duck to water’; other girls weren’t so keen and would worry and cry. The girls worked on piece rate and while learning a new stitch/operation would be put on a set rate and would earn a bonus to make up the money they would have earned. This training could take a couple of weeks before a girl perfected the technique and increased her speed. Part of Alice’s job was to ‘sort girls out - one to do one thing and one to do another’. With time there were developments in sewing machinery and where at one time two operations would have been needed, with improved machinery just one operation was used and the sisters give good descriptions of the various operations and techniques. Marks and Spencers introduced new styles which Alice would have to learn before passing on her expertise to the girls in the factory - one thing which was constant, however, was the use of 13 stitches per inch for the flat machining. Alice appalled by some of the stitching work she has seen in M&S garments, at time of interview.

The Argee was taken over by Courtaulds and it was at this time that Alice and her sisters left.

Sister's Interview No3.
Run time 28 minutes & 8 seconds.

Player controls     Lt to Rt     Start/Pause   Stop     Volume       Status


Return to Top
nike shox hogan scarpe calcio Tiffany christian louboutin Scarpe Adidas superstar Scarpe Reebok Adidas Scarpe nike sb Scarpe nike air force air jordan adidas scarpe Tacchi Scarpe da donna Scarpe
Scarpe hogan oakley nike air presto new balance nike air max adidas Scarpe nike free nike blazer michael kors Ray ban nike huarache Adidas Scarpe Abbigliamento Asics nike flyknit scarpe converse Scarpe air jordan scarpe da calcio nike free nike cortez nike roshe air max new balance
Scarpe Scarpe da donna Scarpe Scarpe Adidas oakley nike air presto Adidas superstar Scarpe adidas scarpe Tacchi Reebok adidas Scarpe Scarpe Scarpe hogan nike air force Adidas Scarpe Tiffany nike sb nike shox hogan scarpe calcio christian louboutin Scarpe air jordan
scarpe calcio Tiffany Scarpe da donna Scarpe Scarpe Adidas nike air max adidas Scarpe nike air presto new balance Scarpe nike air force Adidas superstar Scarpe Scarpe nike shox hogan air jordan adidas Reebok Adidas Scarpe nike sb nike free christian louboutin adidas Scarpe Scarpe Scarpe hogan oakley scarpe Tacchi
Kleid Sportschuhe adidas schuhe adidas schuhe nike schuhe schmuck nike schuhe damen Taschen sonnenbrille Chaussure nike chaussure sport sac a main nike chaussure adidas chaussure lunette de soleil Vetement Chaussure adidas